The Mariners made a somewhat surprising draft pick Day 3 of the Major League Baseball Amateur draft on Saturday. In the 24th round, Seattle selected Trey Griffey, the son of Ken Griffey Jr., with the 717th pick.

Share story

The Mariners made a somewhat surprising draft pick on Day 3 of the Major League Baseball Amateur draft on Saturday. In the 24th round, Seattle selected Trey Griffey, the son of Ken Griffey Jr., with the 717th pick.

Trey Griffey was officially listed as a centerfielder. He hasn’t actually played competitive baseball since his middle school days in Florida. Currently, he’s a wide receiver on the University of Arizona football team. He will be a senior this year for the Wildcats.

“We have footage of him swinging the bat in high school,” said Tom McNamara, Mariners director of amateur scouting. “He came here and hit in the cage and we thought it was a nice swing. Obviously, he’s a good athlete. We just want him to know that if he’s every interested in playing pro baseball, we have a job for him.”

That the pick came in round No. 24 (Griffey’s number with the Mariners) isn’t a coincidence.

“I don’t know if anybody picked up on that,” McNamara deadpanned. “We’re getting real creative in our old age. We knew we are going to do it,””One of our baseball ops guys, Wes Battle,  came over and said it wouldn’t be a bad idea if you took him in the 24th round.”

On the surface, it seems to be more of a symbolic pick to honor the future Hall of Famer. The Mariners also drafted Craig Griffey, Ken’s younger brother, out of Ohio State in the 42nd round of the 1991 draft.

“We just felt that we didn’t want another team to draft him,” McNamara said.  “His name was on draft lists. It’s happened before with the quarterback across the street.”

McNamara was referring to when the Rangers selected Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in the Triple A portion of the  Rule 5 draft during the 2013 winter meetings. The Mariners had planned to take Wilson in the Double A section.

“I actually saw Ken here last week, I asked him, ‘hey would you have a problem with us drafting your son?’ He said no and gave me a big smile,” McNamara said. “I ran it by Jerry and he said, ‘Great, I’m all in.’ It was probably the most nervous I’ve ever been announcing a pick. I didn’t want to mess that up.”

McNamara knows there are plenty of people shaking their heads with the pick.

“I know I will probably get hammered for that,” McNamara said. ” But he’s got pretty good genes.”

Seattle also explored that former player gene pool further with the selection of Eli Wilson out of Garfield High School in the 37th round with, 1,107 pick overall.  He’s the son of former Mariners catcher and current catching coordinator Dan Wilson. Like his dad, Eli Wilson is also a catcher. He hit .394 with six doubles, three triples, 17 RBI and 14 stolen bases as a senior for the Bulldogs. He’s committed to play for the University of Minnesota, where Dan Wilson was a standout.

“He was at our pre-draft workout,” McNamara said. “He’s probably going to go to college first, but you could see a lot of his dad’s mannerisms. It was kind of cool. He’s young. I could see him playing college, doing the Cape Cod League. He’s got a frame where he’s going to get a lot bigger and stronger. He’s got a frame that’s very projectable. We were kind of excited about those two picks. Because those two guys were special players and special guys.”

There have been plenty of family/friend-related picks by organizations in past years. Perhaps the one semi-nepotism pick that panned out best was the Dodgers selecting Mike Piazza, whose father was a close friend of Tommy Lasorda, in the 62nd round of the 1988 draft. Piazza will be inducted into the Hall of Fame with Griffey this summer.

Seattle took another local product in shortstop Morgan McCullough out of West Seattle High School in the 33rd round. McCullough hit .411 with nine extra base hits and 13 RBI in 23 games this season.